This week I have been studying Garry Shead’s D H Lawrence painting Le Petit Dejeuner and frankly I am wondering what it is all about. I’ve asked Eddi to try and explain what Shead is trying to impart here. I see two people sitting on a Union Jack looking uncomfortable with a huge kangaroo sitting opposite them, encroaching on their personal space. Eddi tells me to look for symbolism and to try and understand the narrative that way. She goes on to explain using an analogy of a doctor presented with a list of symptoms to unravel and the subsequent diagnosis. I find it helpful to work from that perspective and try to analyse the picture in that way. (Norman Lindsay also made the link between artists and the medical profession - see last week's blog). I think some of the symbolism in paintings can be quite mysterious and known only to the artist. What then? The most helpful course of action was to go to Sasha Grishin’s tome and after an hour or so reading about Shead and the Lawrence pictures I'm starting to understand and like this little picture better.
The Kangaroo in Le Petit Dejeuner looms large and is an imposing entity even voyeuristic, especially since Frieda (D H Lawrence’s wife) is unclothed / vulnerable. Kangaroo may have ambiguous identity. Grishin suggests Kangaroo was indeed the name of the leader of the secret army that existed just after the war.
See you next week.